Nearly 14 years in South Africa and I finally have a driver’s license with the correct ID number on it! It’s amazing how difficult it is to function without a proper identity. The same is true for us in Sola 5. The more we are clear on our identity, the better we will function.
A question is often asked, “What does Sola 5 do?” The answer to that question is a list of all the churches in Sola 5 with their ministries. We identify ourselves as an association of churches. However, that identity can go further. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Paul commends the church in Thessalonica for their love. That love was shared not only among themselves but among all the churches of Macedonia which included at least Philippi and Berea. There was an identifying with these other churches that gave their love some practical extension.
It is this identifying of churches with one another that constitutes Sola 5. We embrace the same essential doctrine, proclaim the same Gospel and stand on the same core values. But each church needs to inculcate a real sense of identity with the other churches for this to lead to a shared involvement in ministry.
Let me explain in this way. When a person trusts Christ and is baptised, he or she takes on a new public identity as a Christian. That changes the person’s approach to everything in life. Similarly, when a single person gets married, there is a new identity as a couple. Everything in life must now take the other into account. So with a Christian who becomes a church member. We want that person to now think and act and plan in terms of taking the whole Body into account. There is no “me” and “them” (the church); it is “us” and “we.”
Now when it comes to Sola 5, each church wants to be thinking and acting and planning taking our sister churches into account. In this way we can improve our working together without the pitfall of denominational control. There is no one making plans for all the churches, but when each of us plans, we do so in a way that doesn’t work against one another. Like the Thessalonians’ love for all their sister churches, we can think and operate in ways that consciously recognise our identity with each other and encourages, even accommodates, involvement with each other.
We are all very busy most of the time, and we all have limited resources. However, if we can begin cultivating an identity, each church with the others, that will go a long way toward real co-operation in missions, church planting, etc.
It is with all of this in mind that we are publishing a Sola 5 calendar. This will allow us to at least be aware of what’s going and provide opportunity to get involved with each other. This is new so there will be some conflicting schedules in 2014, but let us see this as part of our growing pains and do better in 2015. If your church has an event, ministry, etc. that others can be praying for and getting involved in, please send in the dates. Not all the events on the calendar are strictly Sola 5 church activities, but those in which many of us are involved.
To cultivate more Sola 5 identity in your church, consider the following ideas.
- Put other Sola 5 church events on your church calendar
- Pray for a different Sola 5 church each week
- Put Sola 5 churches on your weekly or monthly prayer lists
- Do pulpit exchanges
- Forward Sola 5 news to all your church’s members
- Read through the Sola 5 Confession of Faith and/or Core Values or print them in your bulletin on consecutive Sundays
- Use the Confession and Values in your membership classes or small groups
- Adopt the Sola 5 Confession of Faith as your church’s Statement of Faith
What other ideas do you have? What is your church doing to cultivate a Sola 5 identity? Let us know and keep us informed so we can pass it on to one another. The clearer our shared identity, the better our functioning together will be.
Working for your joy in Christ,
Jeffrey Gage (Free Grace Baptist Church)